December 31, 2015

Happy Holidays

For the first time in my life, I did not spend Christmas in Park City. I feel lucky to have been able to spend 26 Christmases in the town I love best, however this year has brought about a new adventure, one I am also fortunate to have. With only 10 days away from racing, it is difficult to travel home and travel back to Europe without completely messing yourself up so I elected to stay in Europe and take 10 days to rest, recover, and rejuvenate for the Tour de Ski, 8 grueling days of racing. Lucky for me, my Christmas present was the presence of my Mom and brother in Europe so I could still spend Christmas with family. We stayed in Toblach, Italy and while Europe is encountering an epically bad winter, the snow farming capabilities in Europe are exceptional and we were able to ski everyday while enjoying the crystal clear blue skies and abundant sunshine.

Mom and Char Arrive

The stadium in Toblach, the course goes over the building!

Finishing out racing in 2015

The grim situation here in Europe

Christmas ski on our little white ribbon
The views aren't bad though

In case you missed it, Simi was 2nd in the skate sprint!

Our little Christmas Tree

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Ski

The Dolomites

Good views everywhere

Checking out the skiing in Austria

Watching Megan McJames rip the World Cup Giant Slalom in Austria. Fun to see Park City girls all over the World Cup!

The Cross Country World Cup doesn't miss a beat and we will be back in Action on January 1 for the first stage of the Tour de Ski. The tour moves fast so I will not be able to blog until the end of it, but I will do my best to post updates on my Athlete Page.  Wish me luck! Happy New Year!

December 14, 2015

Mountain Time

I have now finished three weekends of World Cup racing. The excitement and nerves have settled down, everything feels quite routine, living out of a suitcase is getting as comfortable as possible, and hints of homesickness have started to creep in.

Luckily, week three brought us a little further south to the Swiss Alps where the mountains are big and the sun shines strong. I never realize how much I miss the mountains until I arrive back in them and then I get such strong feelings of wanting to be up in the mountains adventuring. With the low snow that we have here, I have been able to go running on the single track trails around the pass we are staying at which has been a real treat for me! Unfortunately, the manmade loop that makes up the race course goes up a narrow valley that is situated in a way that it never gets the sun so our sun time comes from the deck of our hotel in between training sessions.

This weekend was a double skate weekend with a 15k skate on Saturday and  skate sprint on Sunday. Classic is my preferred technique, but I raced both days to work on my skating and one never knows when everything will click. I ended the weekend with a distance race that was close to being where I want to be, but still just short and a sprint with some very tired legs that ended up being another fairly close race. As I keep falling just short of where I would like to be, I have had to step back and focus on the things that did go well and the improvements that have been made in order to not get too down on myself. In the end, a place is just a place and not very representative of what happened during the race unless of course you win. In the distance race, I felt I was doing some of the best skate technique I have ever managed and I also was in the same place at the top of the course that I was at the bottom indicating that I was skiing the downhills much harder than I typically do which has been a big focus for me this year. Those are two very big accomplishments for me despite an average result. I hope to continue to accomplish those things in the coming races while of course, working to increase my speed bit by bit.

The team continued to turn in some strong results as well with 2 top 10, 3 top 20s, and 3 top 30s over the weekend!
Distance racing (Photo: TokoUS)

Sprint Racing (Photo: tokoUS)

Running adventures

The view from the deck

Not much snow, but good running
Our time in the mountains continues for the next month so I am looking forward to enjoying many more days of mountains and sun!

December 8, 2015

Norway, Birthdays, Podiums, O MY!

December has started off well! Norway greeted us to an abundance of salmon, brown cheese, waffles, and most importantly SUNSHINE! The hotel buffet is no joke. Every meal has a full spread of everything you can imagine and then some. Many different choices of meat and seafood, any carb you can imagine, tasty vegetables, and an extensive dessert bar! While the snow was a little sparse, we were able to drive to higher elevations to ski on some natural snow and enjoy the sun and scenery.

I also celebrated my birthday midweek! My teammates threw me a painting party and all of us followed watercolor instruction by Caitlin to create some really nice landscape paintings. I love painting, but oil paint is my favorite medium and those are a bit cumbersome to travel with so I unable to do any art over the course of the winter. This was a wonderful surprise and a ton of fun!

The organizers were able to get together a 3.75km loop for the races with manmade snow. The day before the races we got a big storm that left a fresh blanket of nice, natural snow everywhere. It packed down well overnight and made for some really nice racing conditions on Saturday. Day 1 was a skiathlon, an event we only do once or twice a season. It starts with 7.5km of classic skiing then we switch to skate gear midrace and finish with 7.5km of skating. It is a gear intensive race, making logistics all that more important for the day. The only flat on the course in Lillehammer is the stadium, the rest is up or down. It is very nice skiing, but challenging nonetheless. Skiathlon races are a bit of a mental hurdle for me because I am generally better at classic skiing and am therefore never quite sure what is going to happen when I switch to skate skis. My general plan is always to make up as much time in the classic portion and try to hang on in the skating. For whatever reason, I wasn’t able to make up as much time classic skiing as I had hoped. On the flip side, I didn’t feel all that bad skating and managed to only loose a few places during that portion of the race. Retrospectively, I think I was skiing a little timidly both in the classic and skate portion with a subconscious fear of anticipating skating to feel bad. I was skiing technically well and finished in 37th, not a disaster and not quite what I wanted. Lesson learned: always send it.

Saturday temperatures reached well above freezing melting that nice layer of snow that had fallen and then dropped to below freezing Saturday night making for an ice rink of a ski course on Sunday morning. Ice is my least favorite condition, especially when I have a nice layer of sticky klister on the bottom on my skis. Sunday was also relay day so my race was not just my race, but an important part of the Team USA’s race. The downhills on the course are very fast to begin with and got a lot faster when the tracks where solid ice. I did my best to stay calm and maybe on the surface I appeared calm, but inside I was holding back a flood of tears. I pulled myself together as best I could and the race was off. I found I was climbing really well and feeling quite good on the climbs. I moved up to the front on the longest climb of the course, a grueling 700m climb. But what goes up must come down….I tried hard to take a deep breath and ski fast and controlled down the hill, but just couldn’t get the panic out myself and scrubbed much more speed than I would have liked. Now in the chase group, I set out to just ski the climbs as best as I could and survive the downs. I tagged off to Sadie in 7th place with a number of teams in sight. I was disappointed that I couldn’t overcome all my fears, but hopeful that my teammates could pick off a few teams. Sadie skied an aggressive leg, leap frogging with three teams in front of her before tagging off to our skating machines. Liz, a strong climber, made the most of the climbs dropping 2 of those teams before tagging off to Jessie. Jessie quickly latched onto 4th place, Sweden, and just as quickly passing and dropping them. She was quickly putting time into the 3rd place team and the three of us who had already skied our legs were nervously watching the big screen in the finish as we suddenly realized the podium was in reach. Jessie caught 3rd place on the big climb and then skied over the top of hill very hard, skied an incredibly daring downhill and just flew into the finish to three overwhelmed and screaming teammates! Team USA on the podium!

Two years ago, I watched, from the sidelines, a USA girls relay team win bronze in Lillehammer. It was very inspiring and I knew I wanted to be a part of that someday. To get on the podium in the same place two years later is a great feeling of accomplishment. Watching my teammates ski unbelievable legs full of heart, determination, and belief will keep my inspiration and motivation high for the next two years I’m sure. Having a strong team is an amazing asset as each member has their own wealth of strengths to learn from. I’m a lucky girl to have a strong team in AK and a strong team the rest of the season with USST.

Check out this video highlight if you missed the race:
or watch the full race here:
 Very festive on the streets of Lillehammer

Finding Sun and Snow up high

Sadie, Sophie, Jessie, and me enjoying our ski

Sadie at the painting birthday party

Boys hard at work

My finished product

Lots of neat paintings

The big snowfall before it all melted...

Wax tech JP meeting with his athletes about the race the next day

Greeting Jessie at the finish line

Some very happy girls!

November 30, 2015

Ruka Triple

The World Cup started with a bang with a 3 stage mini tour in Kuusamo, Finland. Kuusamo is close to the Arctic Circle and with some combination of where the village is in relation to the hill and the numerous snow guns in action, there is almost always some moisture in the air and not a whole lot of sun. But Kuusamo has it’s own beauty with long steep climbs and rip roaring descents and fortunately plenty of snow given the warm temperatures we experienced.

This weekend was a bit like the first week of college where everything gets thrown at you at once and you have to figure out a way to piece through it, learn quickly, and keep things moving.

The first day was a classic sprint, with an infamous steep hill into the stadium that often makes or breaks races. I didn’t quite find what I was looking for up the hill and missed out on the heats, but it sure got the ball rolling and helped me to think about what I need to work on in the coming weeks. We did have four girls makes the heats and Andy found some great speed finishing the day in 4th!

The next day, 5k skate, brought some mist and warm temperatures plus another infamous downhill where my teammate Noah Hoffman broke his ankle last year. I had a solid race, finishing in 35th with again, two teammates inside the top 20!

The last day was a pursuit start 10k classic in which we start based on our rank of the previous two races combined. In this manner, the first person across the line wins the whole mini-tour. I like this style because it allows me to start with people of similar ability and let me focus a bit more on the girls I am skiing around. It turned out to be a wax tech’s nightmare with a light freeze over night after the rain a some new snow on top. This is very tricky to find kick and every girl out there struggled so it was a matter of finding ways to make things work. This is where skiing on snow differs so much from rollerskis as the kick and glide on rollerskis never changes so you are never forced to adjust your technique for the given conditions. As a result, I learned so much throughout the course of the race, trying different things over and over until by the last lap I had found something that was working quite well. I ended up finishing the tour in the same place I started, 34th, making for a solid weekend and a good start to the season. Sadie kept up her speed and finished the in 14th leading the USA.

It’s been a weekend full of reflection with all the lessons of racing and skiing coming rushing back to me as I moved through all the races. This is a great way to start for me as I hope to keep all those lessons in mind in the coming weeks and creep my way up the results list.

We are now headed to Lillehammer, Norway to prepare for the next weekend of racing.

Sadie and the giant snowman!

Racing! (Anatolii Tsymbalov Photo)

Sadie sprinting well! (Nordic Focus Photo)
Check out the snowbound podcast if you haven't already. I will be featured every week as I talk about the different experiences I have out on the race course so check back weekly for udpates: 

November 23, 2015

Arctic Start

After 30 or so hours of travel and 5 flights plus a 3 hr drive, I made it from Anchorage to Gallivare, Sweden. The travel day was long, but everything went well so I can't complain too much.

Gallivare is 100km above the arctic circle, however, I awoke to light shinning in my window the first morning. Knowing that I was so far above the arctic circle, I panicked, thinking I must have slept in until 11, knowing that the sun was rising around 9:30 in Anchorage before I left. I checked my watch to see that it was only 8. With all the timezone we traveled through, I wasn't sure if I believed my watch so I grabbed my phone and it too said 8. Still confused, I had to look up the sunrise and sunset of Gallivare before I could be sure it was actually only 8AM. I learned that the sun that day was indeed supposed to be up at 8:30AM, however, setting by 2:30 and loosing around 10 minutes of that daylight each day. The sunrise is relative as the sun just moves a little bit across the horizon before setting so I don't think I actually saw or felt direct sunlight the whole the week. Despite a lack of sun, the arctic has a unique beauty that I very much enjoy. There was lots of snow and great skiing, making for a good first week of getting our feet under us and shaking out the cobwebs.

There were two races over the weekend that the U.S. Team participated in as a warm up for the coming World Cups. I chose to just do one race as I was fortunate enough to be on snow in Anchorage before leaving.

The week was highlighted by visiting our old wax tech Peter's house in Gallivare and being treated to amazing food cooked by his family. The U.S. team also seems to be in good form taking quite a few podium spots over the course of the weekend. I felt satisfied with my race, but hope to get a little more speed in the coming weeks.

Leaving the beautiful mountain of AK

The view out the window

Erik doing some race prep

Sadie enjoying a ski

Jessie and Sophie sprinting

Celebrating Sadie's birthday

Morning in Gallivare

The Stadium (Hoff photo)

Sun shining over the horizon (hoff photo)

Baking in Europe provides a number of challenges converting measurements and translating ingredients at the store, but Jessie and I were successful in baking Sadie a birthday cake and Caitlin did some fine decorating!
The World Cup starts this Friday in Ruka, Finland! NBC will be airing and/or live streaming all of our races this winter!!!! Check out the schedule here:  I believe most races will be available on demand using NBC Live Extra, however, you may need to be a subscriber to NBCSN to be able to view. Live timing and results will be available at 

Additionally, I will be featured on a podcast throughout the season sharing stories of racing on the World Cup. My first episode can be found here:

November 16, 2015

Let the Season Commence

After an amazing month of training and adventuring in Utah, I flew back to AK to find a blanket of snow! We got on snow the next day and were able to ski everyday after that until my departure for Europe, now how is that for good planning! Nothing beats a month of sun and warmth straight to snow! And now for a photo stream to catch up on the last block of summer training.
Fast and Female Park City-teaching girls some ski bounding!

Turkey crossing on our way south for a little vacay

Nothing makes me happier than the desert!

We even witnessed a flash flood

Checked out some slot canyons

It was a bit wet so we had to do some swimming to get through the canyon

Hitting up the biking in Fruita to cap off a great week of fun!
Then we had 2.5 weeks of camp with the US Ski Team. I love rollerskiing up canyons in Utah! 
We got our uniforms and man did we make out well! Thanks LL Bean and Craft for getting us so well outfitted this year. 

Sadie was so excited she had to wear her long underwear home while lugging around our suitcases full of more amazing gear!

Back in Anchorage, we were busy skiing and also busy with fundraisers and special events. Here we are at a Special Olympics fundraiser.
APU held a sendoff and thank you to our donors before leaving. 
After a very hectic two weeks in AK, I finally boarded 5 different flights and made my journey across the globe to Gallivare, Sweden where we are adjusting to the time change, training, and getting ready for the World Cup Season to begin. We will be racing in some warm up races this weekend to be sure we are ready for the Start of the World Cup over Thanksgiving weekend in Finland. 
At this point, I do not know exactly which races I will be racing in or exactly how the season will unfold but this schedule will at least give an idea of what country we are in. I have much more time on my hands now that I am in Europe so I hope to be more consistent with updates. Follow my athlete page on facebook for more current updates